MUSCATINE, Iowa–From competing in contests, running the FFA green house, and conducting their annual fruit sale fundraiser, members of Muscatine FFA keep busy throughout the year. Each spring, their annual banquet gives them a chance to reflect on their achievements, present awards to outstanding members, and simply enjoy a social evening at the Muscatine Agricultural Learning Center. This year’s Muscatine FFA banquet took place March 3. Not long afterwards, students returned to competition, with four teams of Muscatine FFA members going to the Envirothon held at Upper Iowa University in Waterloo March 9.
After two years of presenting awards in alternate formats due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Muscatine FFA members felt elated to hold their annual banquet in the traditional way. Muscatine FFA Vice President Jaiden Schmelzer, a junior, shared that their regular caterer, a Guy and a Grill, provided the evening’s meal before members of the audience enjoyed a program put together by the officer team. The night’s events included student speakers sharing about their experiences with different events and awards celebrating the most active and most improved FFA members, outstanding students in many competition areas, and scholarships for seniors. The officers also recognized students who sold over $700 worth of fruit, new first year members who earned their greenhand awards, and presented an honorary chapter degree to the Muscatine Hy-Vee meat department.
An emotional event for graduating seniors, Jaiden felt it brought her FFA career full circle, since she got to welcome a large class of new members as she prepares to graduate and attend Iowa State University in the fall with eventual plans to study veterinary medicine. “It was fun to look back over the years and think back to my freshman year and how time flies,” she reminisced.
The students competing in Envirothon did not have too much time to dwell on reminisces though, as they traveled to Waterloo to compete less than a week later. A qualifying event for state competition, students had to brush up on their knowledge of aquatics, forestry, soils, and wildlife to prepare to take four 25 question tests. An event particularly well suited to students studying forestry, this year’s Envirothon gave both new and veteran competitors the chance to test out their skills. Owen Booth and Ethan Hausch, both juniors, competed in Envirothon for the first time. They found the experience tough but rewarding. “I thought it was new and challenging,” shared Owen.
“I thought that it was a fun time–there were some challenging questions, but we had a good time up there added Ethan.
For senior Belinda Brain, competing in Envirothon gave her one more chance to go to the state competition before she attends Iowa State University this fall to study public horticulture. In 2020, Belinda lost the opportunity to compete at state when her team won the regional Envirothon only to have the state competition canceled due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I did really enjoy it in 2020, and since I didn’t get to go on in 2020, I hoped to see if I could go on this time,” she said.
Belinda’s team won first place at the regional competition this year. If they placed in the top 15 teams in the state across all regions, they will advance to the state competition later this year.